The stars at night are big and bright (clap here, if you wish) at the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas…in fact, that’s why they built it there! With no nearby cities to flood the skies with competing light, the heavens put on a grand display! Watch…
If you have a particular interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or Astronomy, you’ll definitely want to know about SkyTitan. In their own words, “SkyTitan is an educational content provider that offers innovative, online educational resources to schools, homeschoolers, and life-long learners.” Many of their resources were developed out of collaborations between universities, professional institutions, and scientists, so you can be assured of its quality. Their resources include guided tours of the night sky, labs, and activities, and several take place at the McDonald Observatory. Do plan well in advance, though, as their classes may fill up quickly!
A trip to the observatory is sure to be educational, but you may also be surprised by how much fun your students will have. Speaking for our family, we have some wonderful memories of star parties in the park and stargazing courses taught by a local expert. I was always impressed by the way these science enthusiasts gently encouraged my children. Our youngest was only about 5 when we made our first trip out into the dark one Friday night. Several telescopes were set up in our local park, and many of their owners had brought step-stools so that little ones could look into the big lenses. One man patiently helped my children study the craters of the moon and find Saturn so they could look at its rings. (This was a BIG telescope!) The kids were so impressed! When the man asked my youngest if there was anything else he’d like to see, he answered, “Yes! I want to see the Death Star!” (Guess what movie he’d recently watched.) Without skipping a beat, the man answered earnestly, “Oh! I wish I could see it too…but as you know, that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” 😉
Science is NOT boring, and scientists are not stodgy. 😉